Went for dinner yesterday at Mimigar. This is a specialist in Okinawan food, run by the young genius chef who used to work at Nirai-Kanai. It's a tiny little place (perhaps 25-30 seats), housed in one of the funny little round tube things behind Gallery Hotel, and definitely not a place you'll find by accident! But the interior was cozy, with about 4 small tables and a counter in front of an open kitchen, and even on a Sunday evening it was pretty much packed (we got the last table!). The menu is extensive and mostly in Japanese (and partly in Okinawan...), although there is an English summary in the back.
Dish by dish:
- Mimigar peanuts, or thinly sliced pig ear and bean sprouts in a peanut-mayo (?) dressing. Sounds disgusting, was actually pretty good, especially with booze (more on that later).
- Umibudou, or sea grapes, another Okinawan speciality. A seaweed that looks like green caviar and pops in your mouth like caviar, but doesn't actually taste like much at all.
- Goya chanpuruu, or bitter gourd, egg and tofu stirfry. Probably the best-known Okinawan dish and these guys did to it perfection: porky, smooth and just a tiny hint of bitterness.
- Somen chanpuruu, or stir-fried thin wheat noodles, with more pork bits and julienned vegetables. Very simple, very tasty.
- Sooki soba, or handmade Okinawan wheat noodles in pork stock with super-fatty pork chunks and pickled ginger. I thought this was merely OK, but my dinner companions thought this was beyond amazing.
- Chinbin, or Okinawan crepe-pancake-thing, with whipped cream. Not bad, per se, but kind of heavy and blah.
- Beniimo kuzumochi, or purple yam mochi with soy bean flour (kinako) and cane sugar syrup. This was really, really good!
And for drinks, Mimigar offers a wide range for awamori, the Okinawan firewater (20-60%!) brewed from jasmine rice, for $11-16 per generous pour with mixer of your choice. I tried Kumesen (OK) and my old favorite Yaesen (tasty) on the rocks, while the ladies sampled Ryukyubijin with shikwasaa, an Okinawan version of calamansi.
Total damage: S$175 for three with two rounds of drinks, or around $60/head. The food was great, the drink list was impeccable, and the price -- while not cheap -- was quite competitive with most other Japanese izakayas in Singapore. All in all, I'll definitely be back!